Revealed: 2017's shortlist for the Picture Book Awards

Which books made it on to the English Association's shortlist for Picture Book of the Year?

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Kate Parker

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Picture this: you’re an author or illustrator who creates wonderful works of art introducing millions of children to books for the first time.

Among the thousands of picture books that are published every single year, your own is recognised as one of the best, and is even, perhaps, award-worthy.  

For many, this day has come. The shortlist for the English Association’s 2017 Picture Book Awards has been released.

Last year I am Henry Finch, Greenling, Take Away the A and The Wonder Garden were all deemed picture-perfect and crowned winners. Which books will prove to be the crème de la crème of 2017’s crop and walk away with a prize?

The 2017 shortlisted books are:

A Beginner’s Guide to Bear Spotting Michelle Robinson, illustrated by David Roberts Bloomsbury

A First Book of Animals Nicola Davies, illustrated by Petr Horacek Walker Books

Ada Twist, Scientist Andrea Beaty, illustrated by David Roberts Abrams Books

Atlas of Animal Adventures Rachel Williams and Emily Hawkins, illustrated by Lucy Letherland Wide Eyed Editions

Circle by Jeannie Baker Walker Books

Day of the Dinosaurs Dr Steve Brusatte, illustrated by Daniel Chester Wide Eyed Editions

Illuminature Rachel Williams, illustrated by Carnovsky Wide Eyed Editions

It Starts With a Seed Laura Knowles, illustrated by Jennie Webber Words & Pictures

Nibbles: The Book Monster Emma Yarlett Little Tiger Press

Oi Dog! Kes & Claire Grey, illustrated by Jim Field Hodder Children’s Books

Pharaoh’s Fate Camille Gautier and Stéphanie Vernet, illustrated by Margaux Carpentier B-Small Publishing

Secrets of the Sea Kate Baker, illustrated by Eleanor Taylor Big Picture Press

The Big Book of Bugs by Yuval Zommer Thames & Hudson

The Brontës: Children of the Moors by Mick Manning and Brita Granström Franklin Watts

The Hole Story by Paul Bright and Bruce Ingman Andersen Press

The Journey by Francesca Sanna Flying Eye Books

The Liszts Kyo Maclear, illustrated by Julia Sarda Andersen Press

The Stone Age: Hunters, Gatherers and Woolly Mammoths by Marcia Williams Walker Books

The Truth According to Arthur Tim Hopgood, illustrated by David Tazzyman Bloomsbury

This Little Pebble Anna Claybourne, illustrated by Sally Garland Franklin Watts

Tidy by Emily Gravett Two Hoots

The winners will be announced in four categories: fiction 4-7 years and 7-11 years, and non-fiction 4-7 years and 7-11 years.

The power of picture books

Social media saw a spontaneous celebration of the power of picture books last week when hundreds of users tweeted the covers of their favourite picture books with the hashtag  #PicBookDay.

The picture book enthusiast who fathered the hashtag, Rob Smith, is impressed with this year's shortlist, but highlighted The Big Book of Bugs and The Journey as "stand-outs".

The Big Book of Bugs is "interactive through its questioning page titles, informative through the written text and engaging through the challenge of finding certain creatures ‘hiding’ in the pictures," he said.

The Journey, meanwhile is "a story for our time – a story which tells of a family in a war they did not want, travelling to a country that they do not know," he added.

So should more schools use picture books throughout primary, instead of dismissing them after early years?

"There is no minimum age at which children should, or can, begin to immerse themselves in the world of books," Mr Smith said.

"Babies smile and gurgle at the bold images and familiar animals they see, toddlers giggle and chatter about the images they encounter in books (long before they have an in-depth understanding of the book they are reading) and pre-school children chant to the familiar rhymes and patterns they hear in the texts.

"Why use picture books in schools? The answer is simple: because they are instantly accessible to their audiences. They keep the reader turning the page," he added.

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